Monday 2 December 2013

One more week...

... until Bradford Local Studies and Archives Library reopens :0)

FOBALS (Friends of Bradford Archives and Local Studies) have been busy discussing plans and arrangements for the opening week. I will be at opening ceremony on the 9th and will be around everyday apart from Wednesday that opening week, helping on technology day and giving talks to school children. The full line up of events can be seen here (scroll down for local studies events)

The new library will be a bright contemporary area with lots of new equipment and facilities. I’ve not been inside yet but am hoping to visit for a preview this week. Can I just say a big thank you to Sue Caton of the local Studies Library who has put a huge amount of work into getting the space right and liaising with FOBALS and also to Councillor Hinchcliffe for taking the time to listen to our concerns and ideas and supporting the Local Studies Library.

My book is coming along well. Chapter one is now out for proof reading and the other chapters are getting there but still need a lot of work! I’ve recently uncovered valuable information on the Royal Flying Corps in Bradford thanks to Cross and Cockade.

Well next week will be exceedingly busy if you spot me in the library please say hello and I hope you like the space.

Friday 8 November 2013

Exciting times ahead

I have been busy this week helping with plans for the opening of Bradford Local Studies and Archives the date and details are hush hush at the moment but the launch events are looking goods and it will be a bright contemporary space with lots of new features. I will be giving a talk on one of Bradford’s notable events in history and helping out on various other events in launch week. Watch this space for more news.

I have also been very busy not only has it been half term and my daughter’s birthday but I have been working on the ‘Great War Britain: Bradford’ book. I’m pleased to say I am now over half way though writing. No one chapter is complete yet but I am liking the way it is shaping up and flowing. I’m sure there will be lots of editing involved as I have too much I want to include and only 45,000 word limit. Don’t worry there’ll be 80 pictures too and the text will be broken up with short case studies and profile pieces it won’t be a long essay!!

I have also been meeting with other local arts groups to see if there are opportunities to work together during the centenary as well as some schools who played a vital role towards the war effort at the time.

Next week I really must get more works on paper but will update you on plans for the library when I get the all clear.

Friday 11 October 2013

Musical Beds

Well the talk last week at Bradford Family History SocietyMusical beds – Military use of Bradford’s Hospitals in WW1” complete with elevator music went down well. It was based on a lot of research which like a jigsaw puzzle took a lot of piecing together, as a result it contained a lot of information that people hadn’t previously known. 

I contacted two of the schools that feature in the talk to see if they were interested in finding out more. I could just go and repeat the talk for them but I would like to do something more interactive with the children, time and budget allowing!

I have been busy writing for the book, first turning the musical beds talk into part of a chapter and also writing up some of the research I undertook at the National Archives. It is starting to come together well, the chapters are taking shape!

I have also been busy networking, catching up with the PeaceMuseum, Local Councillors, other History Press Great War Authors and other local WW1 projects including ShipleyWW1 and Keighley's Men of Worth

I am hoping to create a series of talks that can be given over the course of the centenary, ‘Musical Beds’ and ‘Raspberries and Cream Cakes’ being just two of them. As you can tell from the titles I try and engage the audience in the material and find amusing tales in what might otherwise be a sombre topic.

Thursday 26 September 2013

National Archives, Choices, YMCA and more

The last two weeks have been very busy. I spent three days in London two at the National Archives conducting research for my book and one at the History Press WW1 Centenary event where I was able to meet some of the other authors in the Great War Town Series.

The National Archives were great I found many wonderful documents relating to, amongst other things, local munitions factories, war charities, anti-German riots and industrial unrest. I could happily have spent another couple of days there researching and may plan other visit combined with a trip to the Imperial War Museum.

The History Press event was a great opportunity to meet some of the other authors not only from the Great War Town series but also other authors writing on various aspect of the subject. There are a number of Great War Town books that are in the pipeline including Leeds, Sheffield, Kiddiminster, Shropshire and Swindon to name but a few.

While I was away the Peace Museum launched their ChoicesThen and Now project which I have been involved with. It is a cross curricular approach to teaching about World War I and recent and current conflicts, considering the choices available to and made by people in response to key events and ‘days that changed the world’. 

Bradford YMCA also approached me to see if I can help them with their Heritage Lottery Bid which has already gone through the initial stages. They plan to work with young people who will decide which aspect of the First World War they want to research more deeply, it will provide them with research skills and practical cross curricular knowledge of some of the issues around the War and how it impacted on people at home and the front.

I was also contacted by BBC Radio Leeds to see if I can input into their WW1 Centenary broadcasts.

This week has also been busy pulling together a new talk Musical beds – Military use of Bradford’sHospitals in WW1” which will be aired for the first time next week at the Bradford Family History Society meeting on 3rd October at Shipley Library. The topic will also be a chapter within by book Great War Towns: Bradford.

Wednesday 18 September 2013

A Tale of two dates

While researching the mobilisation of Bradford’s territorial forces I came across an instance where the date of a particular event published in several books did not match the date that I believe to be true according to newspaper reports at the time. This is a lesson for us all in checking and rechecking source information and not just reprinting previously published errors.

The event was the departure from the City of Bradford of the 6th Battalion Prince of Wales’s Own West Yorkshire Regiment Territorials. At the outbreak of war they quickly started preparations for mobilisation at their Belle Vue Barracks, engaging recruits up to the full battalion strength and kitting them out. Within just a few days they were ready to depart.

Two modern local publications on the First World War contain two different dates for the event. The earlier of the two publications states
“At 7.30 am on Tuesday, 11 August the 6th West Yorks marched down Manningham Lane to the Midland Railway Station at Foster Square”
                                                                       Raw, D (2005) Bradford Pals

This contradicts the date in a second more recent publication which states
“Having recruited to a high standard the extra men they needed and purchased the necessary horses and mules, they left Bradford for East Yorkshire on 10th August”      
                                       Woods, M and Platts, T (eds) (2007) Bradford in the
                                                                                                    Great War

I checked the notes I had previously made at the local studies library of newspaper reports of the event and I believed the 10th August to be the correct date. However, I considered it wise to consult a contemporary source to verify the facts. Published in 1920 the West Riding Territorial’s in the Great War was thought likely to be an accurate record of events, it states
“On August 11th the Battalion went by rail to its war station at Selby”
                                    Magnus, N (1920) The West Riding Territorials in the
                                                                                                   Great War

Oh! Not what I expected to find. I then remembered that I had looked at a souvenir booklet of the Territorials mobilisation at West Yorkshire Archives I checked my photographs for the text which stated
“The 6th Battalion, popularly designated the Bradford Rifles, left the city early on the morning of Monday, August 10th
                                 Yorkshire Observer (1914) The Mobilisation of the 
                                               Bradford Territorial’s: Pictorial Souvenir

Surely the souvenir brochure written just days after the event had the correct date! I finally managed to double check the edition of the Bradford Daily Telegraph for Monday 10th August 1914 which reports that
 “When the bugle sounded for breakfast parade at the Belle Vue Barracks at five o’clock this morning the signal was more momentous than the men at first realised... And, at 6 this morning, the men were ready to leave Belle Vue... they marched to the Midland Station... it was not until nearly 9 o’clock that the first train left”

Although I haven’t yet checked the battalions war diary to see if their mobilisation from Bradford is recorded in it, I can breathe a sigh of relief confident that my original research notes were correct. It just goes to show that is always worth checking as many contemporary sources as you can to confirm details rather than relying on secondary sources.

p.s. will report back on my trip to London and other activities in next weeks blog